The number of people battling COVID-19 in Los Angeles County hospitals has nearly doubled in the last two weeks, with 745 people hospitalized as of Monday, officials said.
That’s up from 372 people hospitalized on July 12. The trend is being driven by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant; low vaccination rates in poorer, minority communities; and more unmasked people mingling, according to L.A. County health officials.
“Almost everyone hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County is unvaccinated,” the public health department said in a news release.
Since January, more than 97% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.S. were not vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
While a number of so-called breakthrough cases have been identified in vaccinated individuals, their symptoms tend to be less severe thanks to the shot’s protection. Many vaccinated people who become ill or die from the coronavirus have other health problems.
L.A. County also reported 1,966 new virus infections and four additional deaths Monday.
It marks the first time in five days that the number of daily new cases fell below 2,000, but numbers released on Mondays always reflect a delay in reporting figures from the weekend.
“As we continue to experience significant community transmission fueled by the Delta variant, every effort to reduce spread is important,” public health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement, urging everyone to keep wearing a mask. “We need the additional protection while more individuals get vaccinated if we want to get back to low rates of transmission.”
The recent surge in cases is also straining testing sites. A company that operates three L.A.-area testing sites, 911 COVID Testing, said it was conducting 80 tests a day a month ago, but that number has shot up to 600 daily.
“We’ve just been getting hammered with lots and lots of people that need to get tested,” said Steve Farzam, who works with the company. “From the moment when we open, there’s a line of cars.”
To find out where you can get a free vaccine, visit www.VaccinateLACounty.com.